STORRS, Conn. (AP) — Former UConn basketball coach Donald “Dee” Rowe, who served for more than five decades as an ambassador for the school's athletic department and as a mentor for coaches including Jim Calhoun and Geno Auriemma, died on Sunday at his home in Storrs. He was 91.
Rowe was hired as UConn's coach in March of 1969 and was on the bench for eight years, leading the Huskies to the round of 16 in 1976. He was named New England Coach of the Year twice, in 1970 and in 1976.
After retiring as coach in 1977, Rowe launched the fundraising arm of UConn athletics and played a key role in raising money to build the school's on-campus basketball arena, Gampel Pavilion.
In 1980, Dave Gavitt chose Rowe as an assistant coach for the U. S. Olympic men’s basketball team, which never got to play because of the U.S. boycott of the games in the Soviet Union.
He also was a member of the search committees that brought Hall of Fame coaches Calhoun and Auriemma to UConn.
“I learned from Dee just by watching, how he carried himself, just the way he was” Auriemma said Sunday. “He carried himself around like an old move star from the ‘30s and ’40s. I thought to myself, ‘Man, if I can coach long enough and grow up to be like him, I’ll be the happiest guy in the world."'
In 2007, Rowe became a member of the inaugural class of UConn basketball's “Huskies of Honor" with a plaque in Gampel Pavilion. In 2017, he received the John W. Bunn Lifetime Achievement Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Rowe was born Jan. 20, 1929, in Worcester, Massachusetts. He played at Middlebury College in the early 1950s and earned a master's degree in education from Boston University in 1953.
He served as director of athletics and basketball coach from 1955-1969...